Snowy Southwestern Adventures: Winter Fun in Arizona

Thanks to Arizona’s diverse landscape, “winter” means something different depending on where you are in the state. For snow enthusiasts, there’s plenty of cold-weather fun to be had in the winter wonderlands of Northern Arizona, Eastern Arizona, Sedona and Southern Arizona.

Northern Arizona

Snowy Southwestern Adventures: Winter Fun in Arizona
Snowbowl, Flagstaff. Credit: An Pham.

Just north of Flagstaff, a popular winter mecca, is Arizona Snowbowl. Here, Arizona’s highest mountain peak—Mount Humphreys, topping out at 11,500 feet — is home to 777 skiable acres, 55 trails, eight lifts and about 260 inches of average snowfall.

The ski resort’s lodge has three restaurants at which to fuel up before, during and after you hit the slopes, and the newest addition to Snowbowl includes the Arizona Gondola, a ski lift that offers a view from nearly 12,000 feet; you’ll spot a cider cone volcanic field, the red rocks of Sedona and Flagstaff’s San Francisco Peaks. Non-skiers can hop on the Grand Canyon Express (Arizona’s only high speed six-person chairlift) to admire the views.

For snowshoeing, snow-bike riding and other non-downhill winter adventures, there’s Arizona Nordic Village in Flagstaff. The property sprawls through the Ponderosa pines, welcoming cross-country skiers and snowshoers to explore more than 35 miles of groomed trails. The main lodge offers gear rentals and a slew of backcountry yurts and cabins at which to overnight.

Eastern Arizona

Snowy Southwestern Adventures: Winter Fun in Arizona
Sunrise Park Resort, Greer. Credit: @chucktaylorphotographer.

Calling all ski bums! Tucked into the state’s White Mountains, Sunrise Park Resort has 67 runs on 1,200 acres, three mountains, eight lifts and usually 6-10 feet of snow. Skiing and snowboarding are always popular, but for those who want to try something new, there’s ski biking — “skiing” with a bicycle frame and wheels instead of skis. A safety certification is required for first-time ski bikers.

Snow tubing is also available, plus specially designated trails for cross-country skiing, an ideal option of you want to explore the resort’s acreage. If you schedule in advance, intrepid adventurers can also snowboard and ski at night. Lodges in the area include the newly built Sunrise Park Lodge or Hon-Dah Resort and Casino, which is about 30 minutes from Sunrise.

Nearby Greer is a quaint town for relaxing apré ski, like sitting by the crackling fireplace at Molly Butler Lodge
or making snow angels outside (and there is plenty of powder for a snowball fight, too). Afterwards, retreat in the peaceful stillness of the cabins at Aspen Collection, where sipping hot chocolate is the perfect way to experience the wintry view.

The town of Snowflake at the foothills of the White Mountains is situated near the Mogollon Rim, where in winter months you can ice fish on Willow Springs Lake. On the eastern side of the White Mountains, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest offers a chance for snow camping and snowshoeing.

Sedona and the Verde Valley

Snowy Southwestern Adventures: Winter Fun in Arizona
Credit: @neveratalossfor.

Sedona receives about 11 inches of snowfall during the winter months, just enough for white to dust the beautiful red rock formations. Enjoy the picture-perfect setting with camping and stargazing just north of Sedona in the Coconino National Forest in Oak Creek Canyon. Or stay indoors at Sedona’s The Enchantment Resort, which offers stunning views of Boynton Canyon, especially after a winter snow.

Southern Arizona

Snowy Southwestern Adventures: Winter Fun in Arizona
Credit: Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley.

Though you won’t find much in the way of snowy landscapes in Tucson proper, you will enjoy a true winter escape at Mount Lemmon Ski Valley, nestled just north of Tucson. The ski resort boasts 22 trails, 180 inches of average annual snowfall and stands as the southernmost ski destination in the United States. This intimate ski area also offers a restaurant, fudge shop and a general store.

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About the Author

Rudri Bhatt Patel

Rudri Bhatt Patel is a former attorney turned writer and editor. Prior to attending law school, she graduated with an MA in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the literary journal, The Sunlight Press, and her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Business Insider, Civil Eats, Saveur, Dame Magazine, Brain, Child Magazine, ESPN, Phoenix New Times and elsewhere. Find her work at

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